When Hurricane María clobbered Puerto Rico in 2017, several of the archipelago’s museums were damaged, prompting curators to rush collections to safe, climate-controlled warehouses. While none of the art was destroyed, knowing the risk of damage inspired Google and Lin-Manuel Miranda to join forces to digitize Puerto Rico’s treasured pieces.
Through its Arts & Culture platform, Google is bringing its extremely high-definition Art Camera to Puerto Rico to create a digital archive of some 40,000 works of historical and cultural value. In addition to preserving pieces, the archive also allows the world to get a glance at the artistic work coming out of the Caribbean archipelago.
“We hope that the world will get a glimpse of the art treasures of Puerto Rico and — then come visit them,” Miranda said during the Nov. 7 launch event in San Juan, Quartz reported.
The archive currently holds the 350 pieces, including works from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte de Ponce and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.
“The Google Arts & Culture platform offers a strong and necessary starting point for the discovery and appreciation of Puerto Rican art, which is often overlooked,” Patrick Charpenel, executive director of New York’s El Museo del Barrio, told the news site.
While the project is believed to be a good start at preserving and exhibiting Puerto Rican art, Carmen Ramos, deputy chief curator and curator of Latino Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, said at present it is incomplete become it lacks the contributions of Puerto Ricans in the diaspora.
“There are more Puerto Ricans living in the continental U.S. than in the archipelago. Major artists like Raphael Montañez Ortiz and Rafael Ferrer have been working in the US since the 1950s, and others followed to the present day,” she said.
Look through the ultra-high-resolution photos of the art pieces at Google Arts & Culture.